Tag Archives: economy

Knowledge-worker productivity

Paul Reiser of "Mad About You" at 20...Paul Reiser once said historians will one day record that our cities were built as construction workers stood around and whistled at women — and the buildings just appeared.

Now I realize how “knowledge workers” get their tasks done. They sit in meetings, and books are written, reports are filed, youth are educated, projects are planned — just like that, as if the pressure between the posterior and the chair yields paper print-outs and computer codes.

‘Studying less while the economy burns’?

Even if both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney can tap dance on water and heal the stupid with spit and dirt, nothing can stop the bad economic news to come….

Just in time, college students across America have launched a strategy to deal with this crisis: Study less.

Less studying, as you might recall, is a time-honored approach to getting a good job and staying ahead in a global economy that’s competitive and tanking.

Read the full column HERE.

Nobel laureate: U.S. represents ‘corporatism,’ not free market

Sheldon Richman cites Nobel laureate economist Edmund Phelps in this insightful article.

The facts are what you want them to be

The U.S. added jobs, according to NPR this morning — because some people have stopped looking for work, according to Fox News Radio this afternoon.

So U.S. employers “added” jobs when people have stopped looking for work.

That’s like saying the kids have gotten smarter because the SAT became easir.

(See this website for some useful tips on listening to media reports.)

You really only need to understand one thing about our media age: The facts are what you want them to be, whatever you want them to be.

For example, the MSNBC documentary “Mind Over Mania” asserted Teen Mania Ministries demonstrated elements of a mind-control cult. Following the documentary, Christian Research Institute head Hank Hanegraaff wrote, “brainwashing techniques did not work in the 20th century reeducation camps of communist China…”

Hanegraaff was then refuted, but he has yet to post a correction or clarification.

He also took a subtle shot at two of the experts consulted on the program, saying they were “billed as experts specializing in recovery from mind control…”

Hanegraaff was also refuted on his dismissive use of language there: “billed as experts.” He easily could have looked up the Duncan’s credentials.

Factual accuracy doesn’t matter, however, because many people accept what Hanegraaff says without hesitation or qualification. Because Hanegraaff agrees with their presuppositions, they will agree with Hanegraaff on everything.

If only that was true of Hanegraaff alone. Unfortunately, few people think critically or independently, instead choosing to get on one bandwagon or another, or follow one media pundit or another. Which cult do you belong to, and who is your cult leader?

You might as well expect Obama supporters to say the economy has “added” jobs, and the GOP presidential candidates to say people have lost hope in the economy. What else would they say?

‘If education really were a silver bullet, we would have hit something by now’

While I don’t agree with all the assumptions made by Penn State professor John Marsh, or all those made by his reviewer in The New Inquiry, I think this excerpt of the review offers a valid critique of American attitudes toward education and our economy:

But if education really were the silver bullet, we would have hit something by now. Instead, as Penn State professor John Marsh argues in his forthcoming book Class Dismissed, we have an increasingly unequal country hiding behind the flimsy twin excuses of equal opportunity and personal responsibility. Marsh makes a convincing case that no amount of reformist tinkering can make higher education an engine of egalitarianism, because schools were never meant to reduce inequality in the first place. As long as we credit the education system with the ability to fix labor problems, Marsh argues, it is doomed to failure.

Marsh, who comes from a union household, sees the decline of labor organizing as the central source of high and rising inequality. As workers have lost bargaining power, he insists, the gap between classes has increased. 

Read the entire review here.

The recession and church giving

In one sense, “the majority of the economists The Wall Street Journal surveyed during the past few days said the recession that began in December 2007 is now over,” according to this article.

In another sense, “Across the country, congregations of all sizes and denominations are struggling with issues of faith and finance as the recession grinds on…. Richard Klopp, associate director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at Indiana University, said the economic climate for religious organizations is the worst in at least 30 years, forcing membership drives and construction projects to take a back seat to balancing the budget,” according to this article.

The latter article opened with this painful story:

CARROLLTON, Texas — When leaders of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church sat down to plan this year’s budget, they knew that extra prayer was in order.

The slowing economy was squeezing the 4,000 members of this evangelical megachurch outside Dallas, prompting more families to ask for spiritual and financial help even as fewer could afford to give.

To cut 10% from its $6 million budget, the church froze staff salaries, stopped using a daily cleaning service and cut $10,000 from its lawn-care bill. It also laid off five of its 71 staff members, including a popular pastor.

“It was painful, like letting go a close family member,” said church board Chairman Kurt Baxter.

Although most churches essentially have someone in the same role, I still cringe at the term “chairman” for a church, and cringe again at the idea of laying off a popular pastor.